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Navy considers another Roswell training session

The Roswell Air Center could see about 150 pilots, trainers and mechanics for Navy-led pilot training starting in late January. (File Photo)

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The U.S. Navy is making some preliminary plans to be in Roswell in 2021 to conduct military pilot training, according to city officials.

A Navy spokesperson said many factors are still being considered and she could not confirm yet that training would occur here.

The Chief of Naval Air Training (CNTRA) unit based at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas, has talked about bringing 25 Texan II turboprop planes and about 150 pilots, trainers and mechanics, according to Scott Stark, director of the Roswell Air Center.

The training would be held from about Jan. 30 to April 16, he said.

“The same routine we see whenever they come to do their training on the Texas II, so they will be here en masse for the spring,” Stark said.

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He added that he and other city staff have begun meetings to discuss what would be involved in that.

Lt. Michelle Tucker, a public affairs officer with CNTRA, said that, while the training group enjoys training in Roswell and working with the city, several factors mean the decision probably will not be made for certain for several weeks.

“There are a lot of factors at play when considering a remote flight training detachment such as cost and production requirements for naval aviators in the fleet,” she said. “This year, of course, we must also factor in a risk assessment for COVID-19 spread mitigation. Right now, I cannot confirm whether we will be conducting a flight training detachment in Roswell.”

The CNTRA group provides basic training for pilots of several units of the U.S. armed forces, and it has chosen to train in Roswell several times during the past 10 years. Navy leadership have said that the generally mild weather and lack of clouds during that first quarter of the year, as well as the Roswell airfield’s lengthy runways and light air traffic, make it possible to complete many more training sortees than they could in Corpus Christi, where fog is often a problem during the early part of the year.

Navy and Marine pilots trained here earlier this year, for about two weeks until mid-February. But the training group also has been here for longer stays in prior years, sometimes meeting with local students or civic groups during their visits. Their stays here during longer training sessions have been estimated to contribute more than $1 million to the local economy.

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